Do wot you do

It’s been over a month since I’ve published anything on this page. I want to apologize for that. Of course I don’t know if my failure to post has caused any harm but I would like to believe that I have been missed. I always knew that I would be back but it was an unintended hiatus. To make a long story short, my life just blew up all at once in many different directions and as a result somethings got left in the dust. Another key factor which necessitated the hiatus was the direction I was trying to take this blog. I started down the path of asking some of the bigger “why” questions and discovered a rabbit hole that was too deep to put into words. Maybe, I’m not ready to take that on quite yet.

Still, I have been thinking about why people do what they do. In an attempt to simplify this question I’ve tried to categorize motivation into three all encompassing categories. We do what we do because:

  • We NEED to
  • We WANT to
  • We CAN do

The last one certainly accounts for all behavior but I felt it needed to be included as a separate motivation because so much of what we do has nothing to do with wants or needs, we just do. We are creatures of habit. We spend most of our day not thinking about why we do what we do; we just do it. Even our reactions to unexpected situations are not clearly thought out. We simply react. I would like to believe that we react by doing the best we can do but often we just do whatever we can do. I think it’s human nature to always be doing something.

I think that my chronic illnesses gives me a unique perspective on why people do what they do. I don’t spend a lot of time specifically talking about my so called disabilities. It’s not because I don’t think it’s an important subject or that I think people can’t relate. It’s because they are so omnipresent in my life that I don’t even think about them most of the time. They are not a separate part of my life. This is just my life. I’m sure that if I felt judged or marginalized for my life I would be more proactive and assertive about discussing my disabilities but considering that most people think I’m pretty functional I don’t see the need to make an issue of it.

What makes my life unique is that everyday I wake up with different abilities. It’s as if I wake up everyday with a new body and a new mind. Like everyone else, I get up everyday and do what I do but what I can do will very greatly from day to day.  I might not even know what that is until I’ve had a cup of coffee. Drinking coffee every morning is about as far as I can get with being a creature of habit. Let’s hear it for the power of addiction; it’s stronger that chronic illness.

So back to why I haven’t been doing this blog for the past month… it might be good to start with my motivation for doing it in the first place. As an artist, I consider this blog part of my art. Artists often feel an unyielding need to produce, to create, to make art. This blog certainly fulfills that need but it’s not the only means by which I have to do it. I actually started this blog as a means to an end. It came into existence because of something else that I wanted to do. For the time being, what I wanted to do is not an option making this blog no longer a means to that end. In the end, writing this blog is not a need nor a want, it is simply something I can do… sometimes.

That may be as good as it gets. For the past month I have barely been able to do the things that I felt I needed to do.  All of a sudden my daughter required more of my time, my job as a pedicab driver started up again, the band that I’m in kicked into gear again and I wound up with a couple of solo gigs that required me to focus on my own music. These are all good things so I have no regrets. I can’t exactly call having to file my taxes a good thing but I made that into more of a distraction than it needed to be. Plus, I’m getting money back so it’s hard to put that in the bad column.

The only truly bad thing thing that has happened over the past month which has contributed to this writing hiatus is having to let go of a friend, although hopefully that will be temporary as well.  There is nothing that I hate more than letting go of people. Sometimes it’s just a necessity. I would love to blame her for this action. I would love to say that she is just a bad person and that I am better off without her in my life. I’m sure that reveling in vitriol would feel better than this, it’s just not something I can do. As a person with chronic illnesses I have to take personal responsibility for my own health. I don’t have the luxury of blaming other people, making them responsible for my life; I can’t afford to give up my power.

Besides, blaming my friend for doing what she does would be like blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog. For those not familiar with what I’m talking about, there is a fable about a frog and a scorpion. The scorpion asks the frog for a ride across the river and the frog refuses stating that the scorpion would sting him. The scorpion makes the case that if he did that he would die too so the frog had nothing to worry about. The frog agrees and give the scorpion a ride on his back. Half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog.

The frog in shock asks the scorpion, “Why did you do that? Now we will both die!”

To which the scorpion replies, “It’s in my nature.”

The moral, at least as I see it, is that people are who they are. They do what they do. Some of it’s nature, some of it’s nurture but you can’t expect people to miraculously change overnight. My friend is a beautiful, wonderful, caring person but she will sting me if I give her the opportunity. I love and trust my friend implicitly because I know that she will always be herself. That is rare and it means a lot to me. You can say that the scorpion is stupid or even evil but I respect him for sticking to his nature even though it will mean his death. I just don’t want to be the frog.

 

 

 

 

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A good day

Today has been a good day. In fact I’ve had a couple of good days so far this week and it’s only Tuesday. I woke up yesterday with a strong sense of guilt. Actually I woke up with a strong sense of embarrassment but after I let that go the guilt quickly emerged. This is not an uncommon experience after a night of heavy drinking but I think it’s more common when whiskey is involved. Sunday was a whiskey night.

Anyway, I felt like I had an apology to make. I’ve been doing a lot of wrestling with shame, guilt and apology. Frankly, I haven’t seen the point to any of it. I have seen guilt as imposed by the outside as an attempt to control and shame as a lack of self-love. An artist should never apologize for their art and no one should ever apologize for who they are. If you are being a genuine authentic person, you should never need to apologize.

Or so I thought.

I have apologized however. I do see their social purpose and benefit of apology but I’ve not really understood what it meant and how it was associated with guilt and shame until recently. To be honest, I still don’t understand it completely but I think I’m on the right path.

Brené Brown has a couple of TED talk videos dealing with shame and guilt that I have found eye-opening. I highly recommend watching them both (in order) but the main point I want to convey here is that guilt is saying, “I did something wrong”, shame is saying, “I am wrong”.

But understanding this still didn’t help. I still couldn’t see the difference. When I’ve done something that hurt another person they hardly ever say, “you did something that hurt me”, they usually say “YOU hurt me”. As I result I hear, “I am wrong” and I’m not willing to take that on.

It was only yesterday, AS I WAS WRITING “Do what you do” that I realized that I am not my actions. That is not to say that I’m not responsible for my actions, only that they don’t define me. It just means that I can separate the two. It means that I can separate shame and guilt. It means that I can apologize for what I did without having to apologize for who I am. This is a good thing. Considering that I’m going to do what I do, I may have to get really good at apologizing.

So back to my story…

I felt like I had kind of been a dick to my friend the night before and that my actions may have hurt her. I sent her a text message stating as much and it turned out that I was right. I had made a situation personal that didn’t need to be and that prevented me from being the compassionate empathetic person I want to be. I’ve got my hang-ups and insecurities and I do that. I also have the ability to recognize it, take responsibility for my actions and apologize.

Fortunately I was also presented with an opportunity to make amends. Her favorite bar-tender was leaving Mortimer’s after eighteen years on the job. She wanted to go say good-bye to him. She was going to drive to see him but driving to drink is stupid. Cold weather biking kind of sucks too but if you have a friend that bikes all winter long, maybe it won’t be so bad. I got to be that friend.

So vowing not to drink whiskey, I set out to help my friend get across town to south Minneapolis by bicycle. There are a couple of things to know about cold weather biking. The first is to dress in layers so you can stay warm. Second is to not sweat. This means biking slower. It also means taking breaks so we stopped half way at Clubhouse Jager for a drink. On the way back we stopped at the 311 Club.

To not bore you with details, let me just say it was a successful night. I was able to polish off a couple of glasses of wine in my friends garage before I was completely done. I crawled into her bed, chilled to the bone, but quickly warmed up sandwiched between my beautiful friend and her awesome pit-bull.

I woke up this morning at about two in the afternoon. I wasn’t moving too fast, as is typical for me, but I was pleased to not be hung-over given that I drank a total of thirteen drinks the day before. I snuggled with my friend some more before embracing the day.

I’m in a period of transition between working my ass off as a pedicab driver and tackling a really long to-do list of all the things I have been putting off. The wonderful thing about having a really long to-do list is that just about anything I do will move me forward. Today I decided to tackle mowing my lawn and fixing the drip in my bathtub.

I borrowed my friend’s power mower to mow my lawn. Most of the year I can do just fine with my push mower but the first time I mow and the last time I mow I really need the power of a gas mower. In the past I have rented, but having a friend who will loan me theirs is even better. Fixing the drip was easy, I just needed to take the time and get the part. Today was that day.

So life still sucks but it is what it is and what it is is a lot. If you keep it simple, do what you do and pay attention you may find that some days are pretty damn good!

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